Tweed, wool and Glastonbury
I am a something of a follower of Chap. What is Chap I hear you cry, well Chap is a throwback to the fashions of the 1920s and 1930s. It focuses a lot on good tailoring, good fabrics, and always being dandy. Being an amateur tailor myself, and lover of suits, I was drawn to this whimsical fashion style, exploring my Wodehousian self with gumption and aplome.
Of all the fashions I follow and engage with I think that this 1920s look is the most me. Despite having a very definite male/female divide – Chaps and Chapettes, though there are many ongoing attempts to introduce Chapex, or to just degender Chap as a fashion term – I have found that not only do I love the fashion, but the community is the most accepting and ingratiating of any of the fashion communities I am privy to. Fun, rambunctious, and downright splendid in their taste and style, these Chaps welcome all with open arms and are more than willing to teach and convert everyone they meet to the way of tweed.
As a Nonbinary Chap, I have carved out a little style corner for myself. I inhabit a space of roguish vagabonds, elfin children, ragamuffins, urchins and, unashamedly, Bertie Wooster. I feel that this style has no gender for me, it’s not a male version of a female fashion like lolita is, or shapeless, ethereal creature like Mori or Strega, it’s a release into a place where I am purely myself.
My character over the years has been very much informed by the wot-hos of Bertram Wilberforce Wooster and the Great Snakes! of Tintin so I’m not surprised that I feel so at home in the mould of Chap. I’ve always dreamed of toddling off on some wacky adventure in my tweeds and brogues. And perhaps I am, I do find myself in much more exciting and interesting places when herringbone adorns my person. I have never been more comfortable, physically and emotionally, than I am in a pair of plus fours or breeches. I am never more at home than in a shirt and a pullover. Chap has given me a real outlet for expressing myself rather than just my gender.
I love how express and over the top I can be in my other fashions, they allow me a different outlet for different needs, but Chap is me. I am Chap.
This is particular look, which I wore for a day out in Glastonbury – hence the article title – is actually a really simple look. It just requires having the right pieces, well piece. The Plus Twos (Plus Fours or Breeks will also do nicely).
Plus Twos/Fours were a staple of the gentleman’s wardrobe back in the day. They were sportswear, for golf or cycling or other recreational activities. Lost fitting and comfortable, usually made from wools and tweed.
Unfortunately they are not the easiest item of clothing to get your hands on nowadays. You can get some for hunting or golf but they aren’t cheap and often use less than good fabrics. My personal recommendations would be to look for vintage ones, on ebay or in vintage shops, or to make your own, which is what I’ve done. Home made allows for more choices in colour and fabric weave (herringbone, houndstooth, salt and pepper, whatever you like best). I love a good herringbone and dislike every tweed piece being green – I mean, come on, there’s so much to choose from!
So, once you’ve wrangled yourself something in the trouser department, it’s time to look at those lovely wooly jumpers that are in all the shops. The high street is literally my dream at the moment.
Proper, knitted jumpers being in fashion is one of the best things to ever happen, and I hope it lasts for a good few years – if only so I can stock up! You can get a huge selection and you can actually get them pretty cheap as well. Even Primark have some good ones kicking around. It’s worth shopping around to see what you can get, patterns, collar styles and wool thickness vary and it’s worth finding one that you like and will go with plus fours. You don’t want to be running around in an orange jumper and green breeks now do you? (I do, I kind of really do, but I am a bad influence).
My current favourites for all things knitwear are Fatface and The White Stuff. Both have a great selection of mens and womens clothes (so you can definitely find your size no matter where in the gender wobble you are), and are both in the middle of the high street pricing range. Also, The White Stuff is a really trans and NB friendly company, probably some of my best shopping experiences have been in there and I would really recommend them.
Ok, so this look might be a bit heavy, fabrics wise, it is probably a better winter look, but don’t dismiss it as just that. Plus Fours are great spring wear, and switch out the jumper for a sweater vest and you can still be tearing off after adventure well into spring.
The socks are actually just school socks that I picked up in M&S. They are super easy piece to wear, very comfy, and you can get them in loads of colours to complement your outfit. You may be lucky and find some on your local high street but if not, they are easy enough to order online. Search for hunting socks on ebay or have a look at sports socks, either will do.
Now, I could be flippant and say “a shirt is a shirt” and move on. And honestly, I basically am. If you have the cash go a bit more upmarket, but everyone should be getting something well made, well fitting and that isn’t so cheap it’s see through. A good shirt makes a wardrobe. Do not skimp on the shirt just because it might not be seen.
The hat is a vintage flat cap I picked up in Vintage to Vogue in Bath – the best vintage shop in the world. It’s a blue herringbone to match the Plus Twos, because coordination is always key. The gloves on the other hand were a last minute addition because it far too cold to not wear them. At least they’re grey I suppose.
Lastly we move into the coat and shoes. Unlike with a style like lolita where you want everything to be matchy-matchy, Chap has a more everyday, wearable feel, so an overcoat of any colour will work perfectly well – within reason, obviously – as will a good pair of boots, brogues, oxfords or monk straps, though I have been thoroughly admonished for not polishing these ones. I honestly think that it’s good to make something everyday, Chap has what a lot of alternative fashions don’t have, it’s has wearability. I could literally go to work in this style and it would be perfectly functional, as well as looking like a dapper so and so.
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Written by Holly Rose Swinyard